Society of Tocqueville Fellows

The Society of Tocqueville Fellows is a select group of Furman undergraduates interested in cultivating the philosophic perspective on politics exemplified by Alexis de Tocqueville. Tocqueville, a 19th-century Frenchman, was one of the first to witness the momentous new force of modern democracy, and his observations on the far-reaching changes that democracy would bring are still hailed as prophetic today. Tocqueville’s perspective was informed by a thorough understanding of the political alternatives articulated by the philosophic tradition, and characterized by the conviction that a wise appreciation of the goods of an irrevocable past can guide our attempts to navigate an unprecedented future.

“I undertook to see, not differently, but further than the parties; and while they are occupied with the next day, I wanted to ponder the future.” –Alexis de Tocqueville

Tocqueville Fellows commit to deepen their understanding of the Western and American philosophic traditions by enrolling in a minimum of three courses in political philosophy over the span of their Furman career, and by participating in several specially designed extra-curricular activities.

Students must have completed one course in Political Thought to be eligible to apply for admission to the Society. See FAQ below for details. Interested students should submit the application form as well as a 1-2 page letter concerning a book of political philosophy that has deepened or changed their perspective.

See our current members.

Click here to apply.

Questions should be directed to​​​​​


Which courses must I complete before I become eligible to apply for a Tocqueville Fellowship?

You must have completed one of the following courses to be eligible to apply: POL-103, FYW-1138, POL-270, POL-272, POL-273, POL-375, HUM 201 or HUM 202 when taught by a member of the Political Thought faculty.

Which courses count toward the fulfillment of the Tocqueville Fellowship course requirement?

FYW-1138, POL-103, POL-270, POL-272, POL-273, and POL-375.

POL-370, HUM 201, and HUM 202 when taught by a member of the Political Thought faculty.

POL-371: Senior Research Projects, when advised by a member of the Political Thought faculty.

Do the courses I've already taken in Political Thought count toward the three courses necessary to fulfill the Tocqueville Fellowship requirement?


How often do the Fellows meet, and is participation in the extra-curricular program mandatory?

Fellows are obliged to attend all scheduled extra-curricular events during the first year of their participation in the Society, and will be invited to continue participating thereafter. (Please see below for exceptions concerning students on study away.)

How should Fellows prepare to participate in the colloquia?

The colloquia are designed to give Tocqueville Fellows the chance to meet as a group and discuss an issue of contemporary importance, informed by the perspective they have gained by their studies in political philosophy. Fellows should be sure to set aside enough time to do the reading carefully in advance, and come prepared to outline the argument and ask questions of the text.

I'm studying away during the upcoming year. Can I still apply for a Tocqueville Fellowship?

Yes. Your course requirement can be completed any time before graduation. You will be asked to participate in colloquia during the next two semesters you are on campus.

How often will new Fellows be accepted?

Applications will be open in the second half of the Spring semester, and the first round of Fellows will be chosen in April. A second round of applications may be opened in August if spots are still available. The number of Fellowships available each year will vary depending on how many students are currently in the program.